Ariel Sharon Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon, Israel's former prime minister, died Saturday after being in a coma for eight years, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was 85.

Sharon, who suffered a severe stroke in 2006, died at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

"[Sharon] was a brave soldier and a daring leader who loved his nation and his nation loved him," Israeli President Shimon Peres said in a statement. "He was one of Israel's great protectors and most important architects, who knew no fear and certainly never feared vision. He knew how to take difficult decisions and implement them."

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Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its inception in 1948. Later, as minister of defense, he directed the 1982 war, where he was held indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians and was forced to resign.

Sharon became prime minister in 2001. During his fifth year in office, he suffered the stroke, leaving him comatose.